Deep Purple – Live releases galore

I have to admit that I’m slightly overwhelmed.

In front of me I have no less than three new live CD’s by the same band. Double CD’s I might add. Is it too much of a good thing? Let me share my thoughts about these three new releases from one of hard rock’s most influential bands, Deep Purple…

What I’ve now chewed my way through a couple of times is hours and hours of classic hard rock, for better and for worse. Ten days ago, the twin release ”From the Setting Sun …In Wacken’ and ‘…To the Rising Sun in Tokyo’ hit the streets, and a couple of weeks from now, the (re-released) double CD ‘Long Beach 1976’ will be out. Together, these recordings show us two things:
1. Approximately one thousand years after the inception of the band, DP is still putting on a rock solid perfomance.
2. We all know there have been various line-ups along the way, and perhaps not all incarnations of the band hit the soft spot for all of us.

Let me begin with the twin release of live recordings from Wacken and Tokyo’s legendary Budokan. Both were recorded during the Now What?! World Tour. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the ‘Now What?!’ album when it was released, and with that plus the (space) truckload of classic tunes in the suitcase, there wasn’t much else you could do but look forward to seeing Deep Purple live during the summer of 2013.

And I did. I was at Wacken, I was there for the concert in 2013, and it was memorable, indeed. It was the first time I actually heard and saw Deep Purple live, a band I’ve known since I was approximately five years old (‘Machine Head’ was part of the LP curriculum in my childhood home). So for me to be standing there and finally hear Ian Gillan, Ian Paice and Roger Glover launch into Highway Star was a big moment.

I’m not sure how to say this in the right way, but it was such a safe experience. We were all in the good and capable hands of Deep Purple that day. Many known songs (some of them actually unknown to me), the professional and polite conduct of Ian Gillan, the warmth of the sound, the skillfulness, it was simply a wonderful concert where death, black, thrash and hard rock fans alike met in front of the stage and enjoyed the music.

None of these geezers are 25 anymore, and of course you can tell – especially Gillan is at times challenged. But, honestly, for a guy who was born just after the Nazis had been beaten, he’s not not doing a half-arsed job! And, no, Jon Lord is no longer there – however, I think no one can point a finger at Don Airey’s handling of the keys, and the same can be said of Steve Morse, the benjamin of the band (born 1954), who effortlessly takes care of the riffs Blackmore wrote back in the day.

The ‘From the Setting Sun…in Wacken’ CD mirrors my memories of that August concert exactly. The same warmth, the energy of the dinosaurs on stage, their obvious joy of playing those songs, old and new.

Deep Purple - To the Rising Sun

Moving on swiftly to April 2014, where Deep Purple took on the Budokan in Tokyo. You can already from the list of songs on the back of the CD tell that most of the setlist is the same, yet a few changes have been made. A few songs have been replaced, tunes have been swapped around.

Perhaps it’s simply because I was there for the Wacken gig and therefore remember the concert vividly, but I’m left with the feeling that the Budokan concert is slightly less energic, even less focused in comparison. Could this be a sign of fatigue after a long tour, or is it just me? Gillan is struggling a tiny bit more reaching the higher notes, there’s less substance and power in the rest of the band?

No matter what, I’m sure our Japanese metal/hard rock sisters and brothers had a splendid evening with a bunch of no less wonderful tunes.

Deep Purple - Long Beach 1976

The third release that landed on my desk was, as I’ve mentioned, the re-release of the Long Beach concert from 1976. Now, I believe that all those who somehow care about Deep Purple have one or two favourite line-ups. Mark I, II, II, IV or whatever it is real DP fans call them. Whatever mark this one is, it’s not my favourite. As much as I always liked David Coverdale’s albums with Whitesnake, and also the ‘Stormbringer’ album by Purple, the live performances of Mr. Coverdale reportedly are, and always have been, a hit and miss affair. I consider myself lucky because I’ve only seen the man once (Wacken 2006), and at that time, his pipes worked like a charm.

This wasn’t really the case on this particular evening in 1976 at Long Beach Arena. Coverdale is struggling immensely with the high notes, even when performing the songs that were written for his voice (Love Child being one example).

DP geeks will probably go ‘Oh, but you can’t be sure it’s Coverdale singing, because Hughes, Coverdale and Bolin were sharing the vocal duties!’ Yes, probably, but the thing is that to my (probably  blasphemous) ears, none of them get it right. Between them, Bolin and Coverdale screw up Smoke on the Water completely. This Georgia on my Mind thing…where did that come from?! The wailing and screaming? I have no patience for this.

And this probably the thing: Concerts during the seventies were different from now (and hence of course the recordings). A 14-minute long version of Getting Tighter was undoubtedly groovy back then, but it’s a complete bore now. The recordings from Wacken and Budakon show that DP anno 2013/14 have understood that audiences today are not the same as in 1976.

Cementing the difference of audience patience is the ten+ minute guitar solo by Tommy Bolin who had replaced Ritchie Blackmore and unfortunately went on to kill himself with drugs and alcohol a few months after this recording was made. My goodness.

Stormbringer is a great relief from that long tirade of a solo. A real song, hooray! Naturally, this is the eleven-and-a-half- minute version of said song, that goes without saying. It kind of dies along the way, although, it has to be said, that around the eight-minute mark, Coverdale finally, FINALLY! sounds like the vocal demigod he CAN be and the song goes completely heavy. Amazing stuff – right there, and only for a frustratingly brief span of time. The ensuing version of Highway Star is noteworthy because either Hughes or Bolin manage to insert a ‘she’s got big, fat tits’ in the otherwise comparatively sober lyrics of one of Deep Purple’s biggest classics. Interesting.

All in all, eight devils out of ten for these releases. As you have guessed, it’s not because of the 1976 recording, which I’m not particularly fond of. The Wacken recording, however, I treasure, as I do the songs, professionalism and timeless talent of this mighty rock dinosaur, Deep Purple.

Tracklists:

‘From the Setting Sun…in Wacken’

1 – Highway star
2 – Into the fire
3 – Hard lovin’ man
4 – Vincent price
5 – Strange kind of woman
6 – Contact lost
7 – The well-dressed guitar
8 – Hell to pay
9 – Lazy

1 – Above and beyond
2 – No one came
3 – Don Airey’s solo
4 – Perfect strangers
5 – Space truckin
6 – Smoke on the water
7 – Green onions / Hush
8 – Black night

‘…To the Rising Sun in Tokyo’

1 – Après vous
2 – Into the fire
3 – Hard lovin’ man
4 – Strange kind of woman
5 – Vincent price
6 – Contact lost
7 – Uncommon man
8 – The well-dressed guitar
9 – The mule
10 – Above and beyond
11 – Lazy

1 – Hell to pay
2 – Don Airey’s solo
3 – Perfect strangers
4 – Space truckin
5 – Smoke on the water
6 – Green onions / Hush
7 – Black night

‘Long Beach 1976′

1 Intro
2 Burn
3 Lady Luck
4 Gettin’ Tighter
5 Love Child
6 Smoke On The Water
7 Lazy
8 Homeward Strut

1 This Time Around
2 Owed To G
3 Guitar Solo
4 Stormbringer
5 Highway Star
Live from Springfield:
6 Smoke On The Water
7 Going Down
8 Highway Star

Release dates: 1st of April and 29th of April

Label: e-a-r Music

Website: www.deeppurple.com

Thomas Nielsen
About Thomas Nielsen 1345 Articles
When my old buddy Kenn Jensen asked me if I wanted to contribute to the new site he had created, then called powermetal.dk, I didn't hesitate. My love for metal music was and is great. I wrote my first review during the summer of 2004 (Moonspell's 'Antidote' album). In 2015, I took over the editor-in-chief role.

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